Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Near-Trauma Experience

It's hard to post about this, even a week later, because I'm going to sound like I'm joking or exaggerating my emotion, when I'm not. Or rather, I'm going to start to joke and use hyperbole when I don't mean to, because it's the easiest way to protect myself from how really close to home this hit. But I'm going to tell you the story.

Last week, (Tuesday morning, I think) the BPL website went down for about half an hour. This is not the end of the world. When it came back up, my list was gone. This was, to a certain extent, the end of the world for me.

At the time, the list was 62 books long. It's a list of the books I either intend to read or am interested enough in that I don't want to forget that they exist. I've been compiling this list for years--once I've read the book and it's been logged, either here or in my journal, I delete it from the list. Each individual book is not nearly as important to me as the list as a whole--it's almost like a record of my thought processes, and also a predictor of my future thought processes. There are young adult novels about post-apocalyptic survival (Z for Zachariah), nonfiction books about the religious right (Don't Think of an Elephant), all kinds of novels (The Historian, The Uses of Enchantment, The Time Traveller's Wife), history, politics, environmentalism--all kinds of things that I've thought about or planned to think about. It was like losing a diary, and it was really harsh.

That night (after checking for the 40th time in 12 hours, emailing and phoning the library, and being told there was no hope), I started recreating the list. I managed to pull almost 2/3 of it out of my brain. It still hurt, but I really felt a sense of relief that it was all in there. Sometimes I feel like things aren't real until I write them down, or tell someone--until they're recorded. I find it weirdly reassuring to find out that my brain can, indeed, retail information, much in the way it's designed to.

In the morning, like magic, the list reappeared. I issued Mike the huge apology and thank you that he was owed (I was not good company that evening), printed the list immediately, and went about my business. I have to say, I feel like I've discovered something about myself. I'm just not 100% sure if I discovered a new stability, or a new instability.

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